Is Elaine Wynn’s $142 Million Francis Bacon Painting on Way to LA?

She reveals some details about the purchase in a new interview.

Elaine Wynn speaks during the Communities In Schools of Los Angeles Gala 2014. Courtesy of Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Communities In Schools of Los Angeles.

Billionaire art collector Elaine Wynn has hinted, in an interview with Forbes, that the crown jewel of her blue-chip art collection, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), may go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Wynn is the co-chair of the institution, along with investor and Apollo Global Management cofounder Tony Ressler.

She didn’t rule out the donation, instead saying “We’ll see!”

With a net worth estimated at $1.71 billion, Wynn took a number of valuable works away in her 2010 divorce from Las Vegas casino honcho Stephen A. Wynn, also a noted art collector. Forbes values her collection, also featuring other works and examples by Picasso and Manet, at $375 million.

Wynn was so determined to be low-profile about her acquisition of the Bacon, she tells Forbes, that she slinked into the preview exhibition of the work, at Christie’s New York, in sweats and a baseball cap. Her secrecy about the purchase, then the highest price paid at auction for any work of art, continued for two months, until the New York Times outed her as the buyer.

Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud (in 3 parts) (1969) sold at Christie's New York: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 [Lot 0008A] $142,405,000

Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud (in 3 parts) (1969). Photo courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.

The $142 million paid for the three-panel painting remains the record price for a Bacon at auction, far outstripping the next-highest, the $$86.3 million paid for another triptych, at Sotheby’s New York in 2008, according to the artnet Price Database.

Wynn experienced a considerable amount of anxiety related to the purchase, she tells Forbes: “First I was worried I’d want to buy it,” she says. “Then I was worried I might not get it.”


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